Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Monday, October 25, 2010

All the Details on the Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition in Fujairah

Detailed information on the Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition was shared at a Media Conference last Saturday (23 October 2010) at the Fujairah Hilton.

This was followed by an outdoor meal during which some Al Saif swordsmen presented their skills.

Several Formats
This information is posted in several formats:
+ The following article below on Fujairah in Focus
+ Download in Arabic (PDF)
+ Download in English (PDF)

The art of heritage dancing is very famous in the United Arab Emirates. Dances may begin as private activities which pass through generations and become distinct types until finally these folk dances become an important part of social and national events.

There are many types of folk dances including: Al Ayalah, Military, Al Razfa, Liwa, Alhban, Tanboura and Alyoulah. Every one of them is characterized by special features and performed in a different way.

Almzafin is considered one of the traditional arts that abounds in the UAE and which reflect social values, morals and aesthetic qualities. It has technical features that depend on movement, rhythm, signs, symbols of significance and shared meaning that are common among the members of the group where it is popular.

Types of Sword Dance
There are two types of Sword Dance:

+ The first type is called Al Luqiya (‘The Meeting’). In this sword dance the swordsmen enter the field while throwing the swords high (Ghalie al Saif) before catching them. This movement expresses strength and courage.

+ The second type is called Al Raghad (‘The Play’), Al Tasarri, Al Halaqah or Al Mazafin. Two warriors perform a unique dance and jump while they play with their swords. Suddenly they will attack each other and the two swords will touch.

+ The Almzafin dance involves two warriors meeting in the middle, carrying their swords and doing battle. The sword symbolizes the strength of the swordsman and greatness is displayed in the mastery of the sword dance.

The Al Saif Traditional Sword Tournament
+ Almzafin is an ancient and unique way of recognizing the traditions of UAE Nationals, especially the people who live in the mountain who have kept this tradition alive.

+ The Sword Championships have been inaugurated to highlight and maintain these traditions through the direction of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of the Emirate of Fujairah—May God preserve him for his faith in educating the younger generations and encouraging them to practice this folklore and the ancient customs of the Arab people.

+ This event aims to promote UAE identity and to instill patriotism and pride in the arts.

+ These authentic sports are a means of communicating ancient customs, deepening the pride of Emiratis towards their national values and showcasing these practices to everyone.

+ The Almzafin tournament is an opportunity for young people over sixteen to learn and practice this traditional dance and perform it creatively. The annual tournament will help to spread this living tradition, so that a local and remote practice is eventually performed on the international stage.

Conditions for Participation
The following conditions have been formulated to govern participation in the Al Saif Competition. Participants must:
+ Be knowledgeable in the ways of Almzafin.

+ Be committed in the highest degree to the safety of their swords.

+ Be males, sixteen years of age and over.

+ Be committed to the timetable and rules of the competitions

+ Be committed to wearing national attire.

+ Be compliant with all regulations and laws.

+ Be committed to all standards of security and safety.

+ Be committed to public morality and the good treatment of others.

Criteria for Judging Al Saif Tournament
Judges will assess competitors according to four main stages, each of which are allotted a number of points making a total of fifty points.

1. Al Lakiya, Sword Walk, Khab A Saif: (10 points)

Lakiya: the entrance to the field of the Almzafin when the zafin (warrior) grips the sword strongly and displays pride and self-confidence

Eltsary or Sword Walk: Roaming around with the sword.

+ Khab Al Saif Sword refers to the vibration in the grip of the sword hand. The catching of the sword should be flexible. The zafin needs strong nerves to catch and vibrate the sword in the correct way without using his other hand.

+ The dancing by the sword involves the harmonious movement of the whole body while looking forward and moving the legs. The Al Zafin dance follows the rhythm of the song. The movement is wonderfully attractive especially when both warriors face each other with self-esteem.

2. Almzafin (10 points)
This category of the competition involves the rising and descending of the participants.

+ The Zafin (warrior) must show the other that he is prepared and ready to start (Almzavenh).

+ The Zafin rise from the earth for three consecutive times seeking each time to increase the height of the jump from the ground while the qubzat (right fist) holds the sword tight. The Zafin must not shift from the ground where he starts the jump and he must keep facing his opponent.

+ After three jumps the Zafin descends to the lowest level of the earth taking into account the trot sword. He must wait for the other participant to complete his three first jumps, before walking away from the other to finish the Almzafin. This configuration gives a sense of cohesion. It is allowable for the participants during Almzafin to rise together.

+ Almzafin involves coming together and drawing apart with non-random attacks on the other participant for three consecutive attempts, after which rotation continues in a walk and a trot.

3. Ghali (15 points)
This category involves the Ghali (the throwing) and the catching of the sword.

+ The Ghali Al Saif (throwing up of the sword) involves a vertical throw to the highest level. Participants may throw their swords at the same time.

+ The Ghali Al Saif should be repeated for three times after the beginning of Al Mazafin.

+ The jury may forbid a swordsman from continuing the Ghali Al Saif in the case of a competitor lacking control over his sword and endangering other competitors or the public.

+ Throwing the sword must be done in a limited area with the sword being caught no more than three steps from the place from which the sword is thrown.

4. Presentation & Originality (15 points)
In this category judges will look for overall presentation of the swordsman and his sense of originality. Here are some of the things a swordsman might include:

+ Making the sign of the sword and presenting the upper third of the sword while performing.

+ The swordsman must ensure adherence to the values of his national heritage by such things as the sword rotation in the case of Khab Al Saif, catching the sword after Ghali Al Saif and entering the field. All of these things may attract attention and suggest walking to the rhythm of war.

+ Special features to observe include the curvature of the sword in cases of the Khab Al Saif, dancing with rhythm and going down to the ground with the Khab Al Saif and rising again.

+ Holding the sword correctly, gripping of the sword and gesturing in the Khab Al Saif without affecting the movement of the dance.

+ Taking up the sword, walking with the sword in rhythm, changing the movement of the hand from the palm to the back of the hand with flexibility and without the falling of the sword.

+ Throwing the sword from hand to hand and using any of the hands for Khab Al Saif.

+ Balancing the sword upside down on the fingers while walking with rhythm and flexibility without the sword falling.

+ The scream at the beginning of Almzafin attracts the attention of the public and the other participants.

+ Holding the sword by the grip in the case of it coming down.

+ Creativeness will be considered as long it observes the previously mentioned techniques, and movements of the competition and takes into account the objectives of the game.

Mistakes to Avoid
+ The falling of the sword in the final qualifying stages will cost a deduction of 200 points.

+ A participant will be eliminated from the tournament in the case of deliberate and direct abuse or showing any inappropriate manners to the public or the Al Saif commission.

+ The falling or stumbling of a participant during his performance will cost a deduction of points.

+ Throwing the sword and receiving it from behind will cost a deduction of points.

+ The fall of the ghutra (scarf) of the warrior with it being picked up by another participant will involve a deduction of points for the owner of the ghutra and the other participant receiving double points.

Main Site and Location of Al Saif Activities
The main location will be the Fujairah Fort.

Other activities will take place at the following sites:
+ Fujairah Corniche.
+ Dibba Society for Culture and the Arts.
+ Center of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development at Masafi.

Al Saif Championship Awards:
First Prize: Golden Sword plus a car and AED 100,000 dirhams.
Second Prize: Silver Sword plus AED 60,000 dirhams.
Third Prize: Bronze Sword plus AED 40,000 dirhams.
Fourth to Tenth place getters: Each will receive AED 10,000 dirhams.

Other Activities
+ Heritage Village
+ Lyrical passages
+ Entertainment events
+ Awards to the public

Calendar of Al Saif Competition Events

Fujairah Corniche
Friday 22/10/2010: Demonstration and Training

Friday 29/10/2010 Demonstration and Training

Dibba Society for Culture, Arts and Theatre
Friday 22/10/2010: Demonstration and Training

Friday 29/10/2010 Demonstration and Training

Center of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development Masafi
Friday 22/10/2010: Demonstration and Training

Friday 29/10/2010 Demonstration and Training

Fujairah Fort
Saturday 30/10/2010: Qualifying Round
Sunday 31/10/2010: Qualifying Round
Monday 01/11/2010: Qualifying Round
Tuesday 02/11/2010: Qualifying Round
Wednesday 03/11/2010: Qualifying Round
Friday 05/11/2010: Qualification Final
Friday 12/11/2010 Qualification Final
Friday 19/11/2010 Qualification Final
Friday 26/11/2010 Semi-Finals
Friday 10/12/2010 The Finals

Contact Details
Al Saif - Tel: +971 50 989 2000
Fax: +971 9 222 7183
E-mail: info@mhm.ae

More Information on Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition
Personal Website of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi
بطولة السيف Al Saif Traditional Sword Competition Facebook Page

Swordsmen Showcase Their Skills in Fujairah, FIF, 22 October 2010.
Al Saif Traditional Sword Demonstration and Training Commences in Fujairah, FIF, 20 October 2010.
Traditional Sword Competition to be Held in Fujairah, FIF, 30 September 2010.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus Facebook Page.

Image: One of the 150+ swordsmen who will be competing for these fantastic prizes—gold, silver and bronzes swords—which were on display at the Fujairah Hilton Media Conference.

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